Get Ready for Taxes: Plan Ahead to Avoid Refund Delays

Get Ready for Taxes: Plan Ahead to Avoid Refund Delays

Taxpayers can take steps to ensure smooth processing of their 2017 tax return next year. Here are three things taxpayers should know about the tax returns they will file next year.

1) It’s important to gather documents

The IRS urges all taxpayers to file a complete and accurate tax return by making sure they have all the needed documents before they file. This includes:

  • Forms W-2 from employers.
  • Forms 1099 from banks and other payers.
  • Forms 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the Premium Tax Credit.

Typically, these forms start arriving by mail in January. Taxpayers should check them over carefully, and if any of the information shown is wrong, contact the payer right away for a correction.

2) Taxpayers with expiring ITINs should renew promptly

Some people with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number may need to renew it before the end of the year to avoid a refund delay and possible loss of key tax benefits. These ITINs expire Dec. 31, 2017:

  • ITINs not used on a tax return in the past three years.
  • ITINs with middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80.

Anyone who needs to renew an ITIN should submit a completed Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. They should mail the Form W-7, along with original identification documents or copies certified by the issuing agency. Once an individual files a completed form, it typically takes about seven weeks to receive an ITIN assignment letter from the IRS.

3) Choose e-file and direct deposit for a faster refund

Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file. Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. With direct deposit, a refund goes directly into a taxpayer’s bank account.

There are several e-file options:

  • IRS Free File.
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs.
  • Commercial tax preparation software.
  • Tax professional.

Taxpayers should note that the IRS cannot by law issue refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. This law helps make sure that taxpayers receive the refund they’re due by giving the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud.

The IRS expects the earliest refunds related to EITC and ACTC to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if the taxpayer uses direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.  This additional period is due to several factors, including the Presidents Day holiday and banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

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